Law Firm Culture – It Starts at the Top, But Doesn’t End There

Law Firm Culture

Law Firm Culture

Law Firm Culture Starts at the Top

When it comes to law firm culture, we are big believers that it starts from the top.  If the leadership doesn’t establish the company culture and fully buy into it by living out its core values, there is little hope of building and maintaining a strong culture throughout the organization.  Lots of companies fail in this regard.  They set out to establish a positive workplace culture by picking a few aspirational words to put up in the break room, but they fail to use those values to make decisions about the business, to fuel the business’s growth.  Without that congruency, the “culture,” defined by aspirations, never has a chance to take hold of the organization. A study by Deloitte on Core Beliefs and Culture – Chairman’s Survey Findings found that “there is a disconnect between organizations simply talking about their culture and those that are embedding their beliefs into their operations.”  From their bar graph results they illustrate a clear gap between executives’ views on workplace culture versus employee views.  Across many different statements reflecting their sense of workplace culture, the executives respond more favorably than the employees do, suggesting that the culture may not be as pervasive or organic as the executives believe it to be.

Law Firm Culture Defined by What It Is

What if, instead of trying to define the organization by the culture it wants to be, it was simply defined by what it is?  Every organization has a culture, whether they realize it or not.  It might be a positive one, a negative one, or many things in between.  But it is always there, even if it isn’t defined.  I’m not advocating that if a company has a negative culture they are stuck with it, but rather that if we look deeply, there is something about each company that makes it unique.  Its top performers and leaders have at least a few qualities (values) in common.  If we are able to identify those values as they organically exist, and capture them in an understandable way, we can work to build a critical mass of team members that embody those values and live them out.  Taking this organic approach, as opposed to an aspirational approach, will not only lead to a stronger, authentic culture, but it will also lead to greater consistency amongst the perspectives of culture throughout the organization.  In other words, if the core values and culture are accurately defined and visible throughout the organization in everyday decision-making, what starts at the top doesn’t end there because employees are just as aligned with the culture as executives are.


The Culture Counts blog is a discussion of law firm culture and legal innovation, including topics such as effective leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture, ideal work environment, company core values, and workplace productivity.  

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About the Firm:

Klemchuk LLP is a litigation, intellectual property, transactional, and international business law firm dedicated to protecting innovation. The firm provides tailored legal solutions to industries including software, technology, retail, real estate, consumer goods, ecommerce, telecommunications, restaurant, energy, media, and professional services. The firm focuses on serving mid-market companies seeking long-term, value-added relationships with a law firm. Learn more about experiencing law practiced differently and our local counsel practice.

The firm publishes Intellectual Property Trends (latest developments in IP law), Conversations with Innovators (interviews with thought leaders), Leaders in Law (insights from law leaders), Culture Counts (thoughts on law firm culture and business), and Legal Insights (in-depth analysis of IP, litigation, and transactional law).